July 24, 2013 - By David Fleet
Rick and Kathy Moran will spend a month on the road in a round trip ride to Alaska. (click for larger version)
Brandon Twp.-It's 2,815 miles from Ortonville to Hyder, Alaska—in between are the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains and 1,522 miles of the unpredictable Alaskan Highway.
An adventure in a vehicle—a challenge on a motorcycle.
"You can travel as far on a motorcycle as a car in one day—that's if you have the butt for it," laughs Kathy Moran, 56.
On July 29, township residents Kathy and husband Rick will join a group of 16 bikers from the SKI-HI Institute for the 2013 Alaska Bike Run. Pledges to the SKI-HI Institute for the 2013 Alaska Bike Run and the Moran trip can be made at skihi.org. The Utah-based group's goal is to enhance the lives of young chil-dren with special needs, their families, and caregivers.
"I just always wanted to go to Alaska—it's on my bucket list of things to do since I was in my 20s," said Kathy, an instructor in the cardiac ultrasound program at Baker College of Auburn Hills. "The other riders will come up from Florida to Brandon Township on July 29 and then we'll head north across Mackinac to WaWa, Ontario the first night then it's across the provinces of western Canada to the Alaskan Highway."
The trip is not without some concerns for Kathy, who said she started on a motorcycle before she had a driver's license.
"Running out of gas—big issue, especially on the Alaskan Highway," she said. "We need to carry an extra gas can with us. Our motorcycles get about 40 miles per gallon, not bad, but when there's 200 miles or so between stops we need to be prepared."
Rick and Kathy will be driving 1800 cc, six cylinder Honda Goldwings.
"About half the riders are on Harley-Davidsons, but the Goldwings are the most dependable and have the most comfortable seats ever," she said. "That makes a big difference when traveling on such long road trips. In 2011 we went out to Jasper, British Columbia—it was just a fantastic trip. Now we're going even farther to Hyde, then on to Anchorage. We're then going by train to Fairbanks and Denali National Park into the mainland of Alaska."
Construction on Alaskan and Canadian roads are always a concern.
"Summertime in Alaska means plenty of daylight—about 16 hours," she said. "But there is also construction going on since the summer is so short. Rough roads are always a concern, as is wildlife. We usually like to tent out, but due to the abundance of grizzly bears I'd rather not stay in a tent if possible. So it's the hotels for us. I guess I've watched too many TV shows where bears and humans just got too close."
Kathy and Rick have been riding together since the 1970s.
"We're going to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary on this trip, too," she said. "It's also just one more state on our quest to ride through all 50 states. We also keep our helmets on at all times. I was opposed to the change in the law here in Michigan."
The Alaska bike trip is organized by Florida resident Michael Tuccelli who has made eight Alaska runs. While the Alaska run is an adventure for the Morans, the month on motorcycles is also for a good cause.
The name SKI-HI is adapted from Sensory Impaired Home Intervention—pronounced sky-high. "Sky high," begun in 1972, focuses on early intervention and early childhood programming for infants and young children, ages birth to 5, with hearing and vision impairments and other disabilities.